R: Ruse #7 (May 2002), art by Butch Guice, Mike Perkins, and Laura DePuy
(Click picture to gigantic hound-size)
Holmes chuckled heartily. "Your conversation is most entertaining," said he. "When you go out close the door, for there is a decided draught."How much of an all-out action guy is he? How tough is Sherlock Holmes? So tough he beats up cadavers:
"I will go when I have said my say. Don't you dare to meddle with my affairs. I know that Miss Stoner has been here. I traced her! I am a dangerous man to fall foul of! See here." He stepped swiftly forward, seized the poker, and bent it into a curve with his huge brown hands.
"See that you keep yourself out of my grip," he snarled, and hurling the twisted poker into the fireplace he strode out of the room
"He seems a very amiable person," said Holmes, laughing. "I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own." As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again.
"Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastesit approaches to cold-bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and exact knowledge."Man, even Batman ain't that crazy.
"Very right too."
"Yes, but it may be pushed to excess. When it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a bizarre shape."
"Beating the subjects!"
"Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death. I saw him at it with my own eyes."
What we need is peace and love and more loveWords to live by.
But I don't see none of the above
So one for the bass and two for the treble
C'mon y'all, don't dance with the devil!
'Now we're complete,' said Charteris, as Jackson presented himself. 'Gentlemenyour seats. There are only four chairs, and we, as Wordsworth might have said, but didn't, are five. All right, I'll sit on the table. Welch, you worm, away with melancholy. Take away his book, somebody. That's right. Who says what? Tea already made. Coffee published shortly. If anybody wants cocoa, I've got some, only you'll have to boil more water. I regret the absence of menu-cards, but as the entire feast is visible to the naked eye, our loss is immaterial. The offertory will be for the Church expenses fund. Biscuits, please.'Gosh. My tummy is rumbling just reading that, which shows how well Wodehouse knew his audience: schoolboys obsessed with rich, filling tuck. Not to mention sport, of course, and the mystery comes into it later, but quite by accident: one boy sneaks into the scene of the crime to retrieve his schoolbook; another accidentally discovers the pots in a hollow tree in the off-limit woods, and poor Thomson is falsely accused of the theftbut while a the forefront of the goings-on, the mystery is almost always secondary to other activities: running races, sneaking out of bounds, publishing a clandestine school literary journal. And betting, betting, betting.
'I wish you'd given this tea after next Saturday, Alderman,' said Jim. Charteris was called the Alderman on account of his figure, which was inclined to stoutness, and his general capacity for consuming food.
'Never put off till tomorrowWhy?'
'I simply must keep fit for the mile. How's Welch to run, too, if he eats this sort of thing?' He pointed to the well-spread board.
'Yes, there's something in that,' said Tony. 'Thank goodness, my little entertainment's over. I think I will try one of those chocolate things. Thanks.'
'Welch is all right,' said Jackson. 'He could win the hundred and the quarter on sausage-rolls. But think of the times.'
'Shouldn't wonder, you know,' said Dimsdale, one of the two School House fags, judicially, 'if the kid wasn't telling the truth for once in his life. Those pots must be worth something. Don't you think so, Scott?'I'm only a schoolbull and not a schoolboy, but gosh by golly, I think I'd love to go to St. Austin's (or Wrykyn, Wodehouse's other series school) even more than Hogwart's. More sausages, less chance of being zapped clean through by a Death Eater.
Scott admitted that there might be something in the idea, and that, however foreign to his usual habits, Robinson might on this occasion be confining himself more or less to strict fact.
'There you are, then,' said Robinson, vengefully. 'Shows what a fat lot you know what you're talking about, Morrison.'
'Morrison's a fool,' said Scott. 'Ever since he got off the bottom bench in form there's been no holding him.'
'All the same,' said Morrison, feeling that matters were going against him, 'I shan't believe it till I see it.'
'What'll you bet?' said Robinson.
'I never bet,' replied Morrison with scorn.
'You daren't. You know you'd lose.'
'All right, then, I'll bet a penny I'm right.' He drew a deep breath, as who should say, 'It's a lot of money, but it's worth risking it.'
'You'll lose that penny, old chap,' said Robinson. 'That's to say,' he added thoughtfully, 'if you ever pay up.'
'We had a burglary at my place once,' began Reade, of Philpott's House. 'The man'I'm especially fond of droll, wisecracking student Charteris, who had some of the best lines in Tales of St. Austin's and provides a corker here during the search for a lost boy:
'That rotter, Reade,' said Barrett, also of Philpott's, 'has been telling us that burglary chestnut of his all the morning. I wish you chaps wouldn't encourage him.'
'Why, what was it? First I've heard of it, at any rate.' Dallas and Vaughan, of Ward's, added themselves to the group. 'Out with it, Reade,' said Vaughan.
'It's only a beastly reminiscence of Reade's childhood,' said Barrett. 'A burglar got into the wine-cellar and collared all the coals.'
'He didn't. He was in the hall, and my pater got his revolver'
'While you hid under the bed.'
'and potted at him over the banisters.'
'The last time but three you told the story, your pater fired through the keyhole of the dining-room.'
...after inviting them to step in, the servant disappeared, and the Babe came on the scene, wearing a singularly prosperous expression, as if he had dined well.And there's a touch of the later Wodehouse whimsy in this scene where the Headmaster confronts a troublesome student:
'Hullo, you chaps,' he said.
'Sir to you,' said Charteris. 'Look here, Babe, we want to know what you have done with Jim. He was seen by competent witnesses to go off with you, and he's not come back. If you've murdered him, you might let us have the body.'
'Plunkett,' he said, suddenly, 'you are a School-prefect.'Like the best of school stories, it's educational too! There's an extensive section in which the boys are creating their secret school journal to sell and raise money for one of the other lads, and they work diligently throughout the night by candlelight inscribing the journal onto "jellygraph." Mmmmm, said I when I first read that, jelly! A quick trip to the not-around-in-1902 internet taught me, however, that a jellygraph is " is a printing process which involves transfer of an original, prepared with special inks, to a pan of gelatin or a gelatin pad pulled tight on a metal frame." I picture one of those ditto machines in my head, but I guess even messier, smellier, and more manual and complicated. I would have liked to go to school at St. Austin's, but I guess it would be difficult to blog on a jellygraph.
'Yes, sir,' murmured Plunkett. The fact was undeniable.
'You know the duties of a School-prefect?'
'And yet you deliberately break one of the most important rules of the School. How long have you been in the habit of smoking?'
Plunkett evaded the question.
'My father lets me smoke, sir, when I'm at home.'
(A hasty word in the reader's ear. If ever you are accused of smoking, pleasefor my sake, if not for your owntry to refrain from saying that your father lets you do it at home. It is a fatal mistake.)
'Half the staff have gone. Good opportunity for a chap to go for a stroll if he wanted to. Shall we, by the way?'I think it's fair to say that many, many a schoolboy would rate a Wodehouse as just as much a rather special bookmere "good" was not the word to describe it. As an Old Boy himself, he knew his audience well.
'Not for me, thanks. I'm in the middle of a rather special book. Ever read Great Expectations? Dickens, you know.'
'I know. Haven't read it, though. Always rather funk starting on a classic, somehow. Good?'
'My dear chap! Good's not the word.'
'Well, after you. Exit Livy, then. And a good job, too. You might pass us the great Sherlock. Thanks.'
He plunged with the great detective into the mystery of the speckled band, while Vaughan opened Great Expectations at the place where he had left off the night before. And a silence fell upon the study.